Don’t Forget: Internal Communications are a Critical Part of Your Growth Strategy
It’s a challenging market and your company is trying to get work done. You need your employees to get on board and help you achieve your goals together. It’s easy right? Send a few emails, call a couple of meetings and everyone knows what’s going on.
Internal communications is one of the more difficult areas of corporate communications to harness. Not because employees don’t pay attention, or don’t care, but because they are overwhelmed, work remotely or have a listening/learning style that isn’t one size fits all.
The ’Why’ of Internal Communications
Often times internal communications are neglected because they are viewed as a ”nice to have”, and don’t have a direct effect on the company’s bottom line. This could not be further from the truth.
In fact, Aon Hewitt’s 2013 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report estimates that every one percent increase in a company’s employee engagement translates into a .6 percent increase in sales. This means that investing in internal branding and communications can actually help you grow as a company. Furthermore, the report also states that an increase is employee engagement is a leading indicator of corporate growth.
And the list of workplace dynamics that benefit from effective internal communications includes:
- Increased employee engagement and morale
- Building trust and rapport with senior management
- Decreasing rumor mills and uncertainty
- Establishing and reinforcing cultural attributes
- Having a clear understanding of expectations
Employees who are engaged and satisfied with their employer are more productive and loyal, refer their friends and family, and also act as informal brand ambassadors.
The Dos and Don’ts of Internal Communications
When you consider developing an internal communications strategy and plan, there are many factors to consider, most falling under the areas of: who should communicate what, when should they communicate it and how? Before getting started, here are 10 dos and don’ts to think about first.
Do this with your Internal Communications:
- DO Have Top Down Involvement - senior managers set the tone for the entire organization, and their buy in is crucial to successful communications planning.
- DO Utilize a Variety of Communications Vehicles - especially if you have remote workers, be sure to communicate the same messages via a variety of channels to cascade the message to everyone.
- DO Set Expectations & Follow Through - regular, consistent communications are key to engaging employees. For example, if you have committed to sending out a quarterly newsletter, than do it, every quarter, on time.
- DO Understand the Needs of Your Team - simply ask employees what they are looking for. Newsletters? Podcasts? Yammer? A combination of all three? What do they want to hear and how do they prefer to hear it?
- DO Be Creative - internal communications does not mean a series of memos and articles that instruct or give a one-page overview of new health benefits. Get creative and use videos, text messaging, infographics, social media, etc. to get the word out and spread a message.
But don’t this:
- DON’T Be Disjointed - develop a messaging platform with purpose that ideally ties to the organization’s overall purpose, so employees have context for the information. (Read ”Accountability vs. Autonomy: Finding the Right Workplace Balance”)
- DON’T Surprise Employees - if it’s possible, employees should always be the first to know. Nothing breaks a trust or devalues employees more than hearing on the news that there is a new CEO, or the company has been acquired.
- DON’T Rely On One-Way Communication - employees want to hear and be heard. Feedback is a great way to take the pulse of the company and demonstrate that the organization has a genuine interest in employees’ feedback. (Don’t forget to engage your internal influencers in this. Read ”The 3 Percent: Influential Employees Have Bigger Voices”)
- DON’T Make Team Leaders ’Go It Alone’ - not everyone is a natural communicator. Some are better than others. In any case, provide managers and leaders with toolkits and assistance to set them up for success.
- DON’T Take On More Than You Can Handle - if resources and budgets are a concern, be realistic about what you can accomplish. It’s better to do a few things really well, than many things poorly.
A bonus tip - remember that internal communications should build upon your brand’s purpose and be used to establish a culture of transparency and fulfill employees’ needs, educate, inform, build culture and create bonds.
As a Strategic Writer at Savage, Stacey facilitates client discovery sessions, develops key messaging, positioning strategies and marketing plans. She also integrates and executes Public and Media Relations strategy and provides copywriting for all communications channels.